Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Selective Acclimation- Tiny Habits Carried Forward

Photo Cred: Nat Rea Photography
It has now been about three months since we have lived in the Pod.

I think that's a pretty solid amount of time to adjust back to more conventional ways of living. I have been incredibly curious and observant of the both of us as we have transitioned. I wanted to know what habits and mindsets would stick with us and what would fade away. One thing I spoke about in length at the very beginning of this journey was the true desire to simply have the experience. No matter what came of it, how long it went on, or even if it didn't totally work out, (but it SOOOO did) we wanted to give it a try and live through what followed. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: gathering experience is what makes life grand. We will all grow older, but if we seek experience over stuff, we grow deeper and richer as individuals. 

I have heard so many different people remark, "Well I guess living tiny doesn't work," when they hear of someone selling their tiny house and moving on. We were still living in the Pod when I came across that mentality for the first time. The person was commenting on another couple that was leaving the tiny life behind after about three years. I immediately thought, "What an idiotic, narrow response!" By that logic, we really need to rethink apartment living, because those people relocate as often as every year! I guess apartment living doesn't work! -- Oh she had that hair cut for two years, now she's changed it? Guess having hair doesn't work! Shave it off! ......I think you get my drift.

No version of Jess saw this coming!
This person was turning a gigantic blind eye to...let's call it LIFE in general.  I think back in five year increments and who I was at 25, NEVER EVER would have seen all the experiences and accomplishments that 30 year old me was bringing. The same goes for 20 year old Jess trying to imagine what 25 year old Jess would be. The point is, the "Decisions Made for Life" list is very short- heck! Even tattoos used to be on the list and now, (with enough money and sessions) those decisions can be reversed too. So to say- at any age really- "Yep! This is it! This is where I want to be for the next 50 years, I won't ever feel differently about this! No sir!" - is just plain ridiculous.

I digress. Back to the sociology study- so here is what I have noticed about how we live life now... We are incredibly lucky to be able to stay in a family members' apartment while they winter in Florida. They too, started to recognize the benefits and beauty of minimizing. So we got to transition back to regular spaces with perhaps the most perfect place!

This is big news people! For the first time ever,
Dan's side of the closet is bigger!!

The apartment is maybe 600 square feet with an open concept. They have just enough dishes, towels, chairs, etc for two people. There aren't stacks of books or shelves full of picture frames. We didn't find 34 different bottles of lotions, peels, scrubs and soaps in the bathroom. It seemed almost hotel-like at first, but the space has a very clean and inviting energy. We only moved in our clothes, computers plus gadgets, and some choice pantry items and kitchen tools. We were incredulous when we saw that we had cluttered up certain areas.  We might have lived tiny, but that doesn't automatically make you a minimalist. I found myself overwhelmed with the urge to donate even more things. 

Ready for the podcast! 

Major discovery number one: My involuntary need to get things just to fill a space, has been eradicated. Huzzah! I look at the simple layout of the kitchen slash living area, and feel no urge to put a big vase in that corner and a little statue on a stool over there, and a bowl of ceramic fruits on the coffee table.

Major discovery number two: This one actually came on the heels of the first- my ability to let items go is approaching Jedi Master levels. It was something I really had to work on when we began the journey, and had to keep in constant awareness as we lived in the Pod. But now, suddenly, I am a pro. My theory is that, since my ties to items were often sentimental, and we just let go of our tiny house, our veritable baby -- well....haha, giving away that pair of shoes is nothing now. I have learned that very little of life's material things are really worth the effort it takes to carry them along through all that life will bring...and minimizing is cathartic and energizing. 

Major discovery number three: My obsession with water use has some how intensified. I am painfully aware of every time I use water, but it's also a little magical too. Knowing I didn't have to carry that water into the apartment is pretty awesome. I am so happy that something as simple as running water is now a source of joy. It should be. This enduring appreciation for water, and keen awareness of my usage, is something that took root thanks to our way of life over the last three years. 

Major discovery number four: The friendships and community we have gained through living tiny will always be there. We have a pretty sweet group of friends, all impressive and compelling individuals that we are proud to know, let alone know well. We have continued to participate in cool tiny house stuff. If you missed it, check out the podcast interview we did with Tiny House Podcast! We met Michelle at Deek's tiny house summer camp last fall! (Relaxshacks.com) It's a more candid conversation that sheds light on our backgrounds and the underlying motivations and desires that took us down the tiny path.
We also recently joined in for one of Ethan Waldman's Tiny House Engage sessions focused on building with salvage and re-claimed materials. It's a great group on FB that is committed to sharing quality information on tiny houses.

Chattin' it up with Ethan during a Tiny House Engage
 video conference session.

In my happy, messy place...
Major discovery number five: The size of my cooking messes will always be directly proportionate to the size of the kitchen I use....as in, I will fill it all with mess. Ha! I am truly enjoying having a fully-applianced kitchen once again. I did miss that while we lived tiny, but now, I have a reason to especially enjoy that oven, that large deep sink, all that counter space! And much more so than I did before we had those experiences. 

In short, I believe that those three years of living tiny "worked" fabulously. The fact that it lasted for three years and not eternity certainly doesn't make it a fail in my eyes. Not only did we save a bunch of money and pay down a good amount of debt, I actually started my own business! I went down this path  wanting to be more aware and appreciative of the small things in every day life. I craved the empowerment that comes with building your own home, and wondered what all that new found courage and confidence would spur next in life. Let me tell you, the adventure did not disappoint. We are so proud and grateful to have experienced living tiny. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Peas Without Their Pod: What's Next For Us?

I let myself have the month of January to allow everything sink in.

Even now, as I sit in our temporary apartment, enjoying tea made from "faucet water" and unlimited electricity, I still somehow feel like we haven't left the Pod. As if we are just house sitting for another weekend, and soon enough we will drive back up to the farm, turn the corner up our old driveway, and there she will be, waiting for us. What that tells me is that I really truly, deeply, and irrevocably adored that home and way of life. I don't remember feeling this way about any home I have ever lived in, and I have moved a lot in my life. I didn't struggle nearly as much even when the traditional home I once owned and slaved over was wrenched from me, as the relationship I was in crumbled. 

Before we took the deck apart...

This time around, it was a conscious choice. We were ready to sell the Pod, at least as ready as you can be. We knew our next step and our next chapter would only happen if we parted ways with our beloved abode. On December 30th, I managed to muster a short post, documenting a huge moment: the Pod leaving Rhode Island. It was a quiet moment, no parades or parties. The tiny house that had sat still, kept us safe and warm, and cultivated and curated some of our best characteristics as individuals and as a couple....just quietly rolled away, leaving hardly a mark in it's place. The lasting marks were not made on the ground; that little place has left an indelible mark on our souls.

Empty... sigh..

I spend a lot of time in self-reflection. I second guess choices I have made in the past, worry about choices I plan to make in the future, and leading up to the sale of the house, I absolutely wondered if we were doing the right thing.  As the entire process began to unfold, I saw one sign after another that assured me we were on the right path. I startled myself with a small chuckle as I began to really think about each "sign" that solidified my resolve...

We knew we had to put together some kind of video, and we wanted it to reach a lot of people, so we chatted with our good friend Deek of relaxshacks.com about making a sale video. This was mid summer. Schedules got crazy, lines of communication went silent. I worried a bit...ok, A LOT.

Us with Alex- the reuse guy!
 It so happens that we also had agreed to be in a really cool documentary about converting a box truck into a tiny house using completely reused materials. (Check it out: www.boxtruckfilm.com ) This project is being carried out by the reuse king: Alex Eaves of stayvocal.com and the mini-build master: Deek! Dates for this kept getting shuffled, until finally a day in early November seemed to work for the hectic schedules of all three parties. 

Deek getting some cool shots for the sale video..

We spent the afternoon filming interviews and shots of the Pod for the documentary. As the afternoon sun began to wane, the filming wrapped up. Deek had brought his own camera stuff, as we hoped to squeeze in a shoot for the sale video. With about 20 minutes left, we hammered it out. 

Within a week, Deek had the video up online, and about 5 days after, we had put up posts sharing the official news. Dan and I were both sweating bullets. This was it- we were about to get some real, raw feedback on our house. Would anyone want it? Would anyone else think it was as beautiful and wonderful as we did? Would anyone think our price was reasonable, or ridiculous? Would anyone contact us AT ALL? 

I didn't really want to know at first, so I was thankful that we were slated to go visit family on the West coast for Thanksgiving. I desperately wanted distraction during that time....but wouldn't you know? None of that worrying was necessary. After Deek posted his video, Sarah contacted us THE NEXT DAY.  

Thanks so much, Sarah! 
We chatted a bit, and I answered a few of her questions, which spurred me to write a post answering many of the common questions we were getting in an avalanche of emails. We planned a day for Sarah to come see the Pod once we returned, and I held off scheduling visits with anyone else until Sarah had already come by. After I wrote the post, Sarah emailed me again, expressing just how interested and motivated she was. It was a great feeling to kick off a week of nice weather! 

When we got back, Sarah came to see the place, and as we talked, I grew more and more excited. She mentioned that she loved our house from the very first video Deek posted from over a year ago, and had hoped that maybe someday we would sell it. She pointed out all the details that she knew of, really commending us on our efforts to recycle and reuse materials. She was happy that we had it set up as off grid. She really liked that there was no plumbing, and she already had an outdoor shower on her FARM. She didn't want to worry about the winterizing process in the NH cold. So it was perfect for her.  She loved the simplicity and the big feel of the great room. She loved that we chose pine for the walls and not sheet-rock. She loved the colors we chose and the Swedish inspired decor. A fellow Swede! Amazing! Then, as if we needed sprinkles on this already iced cake: she told us her vision for the Pod. She teaches classes on homesteading and sustainable agriculture right on her farm and plans to rent out the Pod for workshops and provide an "Artist In Residence" opportunity for college kids during the school year. She said we were welcome to come attend a workshop and come visit the Pod!! 

We returned home on a Monday, and the Pod was officially sold that Thursday, December 1st to perhaps the most perfect possible person. So within two weeks of sharing this with the world, our house was sold. Within 20 days of that, all the "paperwork" was done, and the Pod was rolling away. I had worried about so many different things, and the last of my worries was: how long will it take to wrap up the final details and move the Pod out of RI? I wondered if this would follow us into 2017. Nope!

It all was so seamless and easy. Dan and I kept pinching ourselves. We would randomly blurt out to one another, "Is this really happening?! It's sold? It's done!? No tire kickers?! No low ballers?!"
The universe seemed to say, "Don't you worry, Jess and Dan, you are doing the right thing. I've got it alllllll covered. I've got this person who happens to find every detail you are worried about- like the no plumbing- to be absolutely perfect. I'll have her contact you within 24 hours. She lives right in New England, she loves all the same things as you, she thinks your price is more than fair, and she will take wonderful care of the Pod. I'll have it all wrapped up before the year's end, so you have a fresh start in 2017. Now roll on to your next adventure!"

Indeed, Universe. INDEED. 

Our new focus will be the business, Two Little Buns, but we will still be involved in the tiny house world. We plan to return to tiny one day, and we will live with it in mind until then. We still have a lot of fun things to post about...many plans to visit all the tiny house friends we have gained, and perhaps plans to build a tiny mobile "booth" for the bakery!

Thanks for reading!